A new Yale study shows that drinking artificially-sweetened beverages is linked to a much lower risk of colon cancer recurrence and cancer death.
In the study, researchers found that in the 1,018 patient, those who drank one or more 12-ounce serving of artificially sweetened beverages per day experienced a 46% decrease in risk of cancer recurrence or death, compared to those who didn’t drink these beverages.
These were “soft drinks,” defined as caffeinated colas, caffeine-free colas, and other carbonated beverages (such as diet ginger ale).
A second analysis found that about half that benefit was due to substituting an artificially sweetened beverage for a beverage sweetened with sugar.
Previous research has suggest that poor dietary habits, such as high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, may increase risk of colon cancer recurrence and patient mortality.
This study shows that for colon cancer patients who have trouble abstaining from sweet beverages, choosing artificially sweetened drinks over sugar-sweetened beverages may allow them to avoid those health ramifications.
In the study, patients completed comprehensive nutrition questionnaires probing consumption of more than 130 different foods and drinks over the span of many months.
One questionnaire was given as patients underwent chemotherapy between 1999 and 2001, and then was given again six months after chemotherapy ended.
The research team then tracked cancer recurrence and patient death rates for about seven years, and found, among other things, that the two chemotherapy regiments offered equitable benefits.
The median follow-up from the first questionnaire was 7.3 years. During this time, 348 of the 1,018 patients experienced colon cancer recurrence or new primary tumors; 265 of these patients died.
The team suggests that health impact of such soft drinks should be studied.
Concerns that artificial sweeteners may increase the incidence of obesity, diabetes, and cancer have been raised, but studies on issues such as weight gain and diabetes have been very mixed.
More research is needed to see if drinking more diet beverages can lead to a lower risk of cancer recurrence or death.
The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
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